"Why should they want to improve [Washington Square]?" Tony [Dapolito] replied. "We asked NYU to reduce the size of its new library on Washington Square. We told them the huge building would cast a deep shadow over a big area of the park in winter, when sunlight is needed most. They said no. After the library was completed, they promised not to build anything else on Washington Square South. They lied about that. I realized they don't care if something makes the community unhappy. A happy community makes real estate values go up. They don't want us to feel at home here. It increases the cost of the properties they want to buy."
The apparatus of New York City government has become an arm of NYU's real estate program. The City Council, the Mayor and the State Legislature are easy targets for NYU's large and active force of lobbyists. NYU doesn't make nice with Greenwich Village and the City of New York because it doesn't have to. Its position as one of the largest employers in a city where unemployment is at 10 percent gives it all the leverage it needs.
Read Ms. Whelton's history of NYU development in the Village at http://www.mindingthecampus.com/originals/2012/09/by_diane_wheltonas_the_2012-13.html. (Hat tip: Washington Square Village Tenants Association)